Serving Better Together
Since the start of the 4-H club program in 1902, members have learned from an early age the importance of civic engagement. Research shows 4-H’ers nationwide are four times more likely to give back to their communities. In March, the Douglas County 4-H Program launched a community service campaign to encourage 4-H community clubs, project clubs and county-wide groups to organize youth-led service learning projects. The campaign, Serving Better Together, will run March through the end of May.
The campaign started with a virtual meeting to celebrate recent community service project success. 4-H’ers from the Meadowlark 4-H Club shared about their Windows of Joy service learning project. The club has families creating window decorations at home and then one-two families commit to decorating the outside of the windows at Bridge Haven Memory Care and The Winter Center. The Windows of Joy project is a great example of a community service activity that families can engage in and still safely follow COVID-19 protocols.
At the virtual meeting, Lanaea Heine, club leader from the Clinton Eagles 4-H Club, gave a presentation about their Clinton Eagles Cares community service program. The program allows members to earn incentive points for their involvement with club service learning projects. Over the past year the club has organized several projects including distributing American flags for Memorial Day weekend and writing letters to the elderly. Members who meet the minimum expectations of the incentive program earn a reward for their efforts.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for volunteers and 4-H members to learn about the Serving Better Together campaign grant. The campaign includes a $3,000 grant opportunity for project materials. The Douglas County 4-H Foundation and the Douglas County 4-H Council both graciously pledged $1,500 to the grant opportunity. Interested 4-H clubs and groups are eligible to apply for the grant. The grant application process includes submitting a project action plan and the requested dollar amount.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of our clubs experienced a significant decline in fundraising income. The campaign grant will offer clubs financial assistance to offset the cost of the project expenses. Janine Leslie, 4-H club leader for the Kanwaka 4-H Club, said, “I think the Serving Better Together grant opportunity is amazing. Because our club is small we don’t have many fundraisers. It’s really hard to ask the parents to support community service projects every other month. Having this opportunity to apply for the grants will encourage more families to be on board with the projects.” Meghan Allen, club leader for the Meadowlark 4-H Club, said, “We are excited for the grant opportunity the campaign provides. The grants make it possible for our 4-H’ers to be excited about the amount and type of projects we can plan for."
The funds supporting the campaign are not only an investment for our 4-H youth but also an investment in the Douglas County community. Craig Shultz, Douglas County 4-H Foundation President, said, “The Foundation is honored to support the community service projects of the Douglas County 4-H members and their adult volunteers. 4-H has a long history of improving communities and the hard work of Douglas County 4-H continues that tradition.”
Over the next three months the Douglas County 4-H program will be showcasing the youth-led service learning projects on our social media outlets and the K-State Research and Extension’s website at www.douglas.ksu.edu.